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Norton school board hires interim football coach

Mike Still • Jul 16, 2019 at 11:59 AM

NORTON – The Norton School Board hired an interim football coach Monday, even as coach James Adams still remains a school system employee.

The board voted 5-0 after a half-hour closed session to approve a new coaching list, with Jacob Caudill listed as “(interim) Head Varsity” coach with a 12-percent pay supplement.

After the board completed its vote for an attachment A and attachment B with no explanation of what they were, School Board Chairman Cody McElroy told reporters that they could get the documents online Tuesday morning because they were not amended. After the reporters objected, school division staff amended the documents and emailed them to media outlets after the meeting.

In addition to Caudill, six interim assistant varsity football coaches and four interim unpaid varsity volunteers were approved.

School Superintendent Gina Wohlford, when asked if Adams was suspended, said he was still employed by the system but was not being asked to perform any duties.

Wohlford said that the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police was still conducting a non-criminal investigation requested by the school board in late June.

Adams has been the center of a public controversy that began June 10, when the school board renewed Adams coaching contract after two women and former students publicly accused him in that meeting of inappropriate comments and sexual harassment when he was their teacher.

Norton Police Chief James Lane on July 1 confirmed that another allegation against Adams was referred to the Virginia State Police.

As the board voted to approve minutes of the June 10 meeting, board member Mark Leonard asked if public comments from that meeting were included in the minutes. School board staff member Becke Elkins said there were no recordings of public comments.

Leonard asked that any written statements provided by commenters be included in the minutes and that commenters be contacted to provide their written comments from June 10.

Earlier in Monday’s meeting, Family Crisis Support Services victim advocate Angel Mefford offered to provide a harassment prevention program to Norton middle and high school students to educate them on harassment and inappropriate behavior.

“In light of recent events, I think this is a make-it or break-it situation,” Mefford told the board.

The board also voted to authorize Wohlford to “hire staff and accept resignations from July 16 until Aug. 11 – the day before the board’s next regular meeting.

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